Abubakar Umar, the fourth prosecution witness in the trial of a former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, before Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court, narrated how he handed over the sum of $15.8m to the former governor at his Maitama residence, Abuja.
Recall that the witness, a Bureau De Change Operator and CEO of Fanffash Resources, has been in the witness box since 2018.
At a stage in the trail, he was declared hostile, after he recanted on the statement he volunteered to the EFCC, while being led in evidence by Rotimi Jacobs SAN.In his statement before the EFCC, he wrote that he took the money to the governor at his residence in in Maitama, Abuja but changed the narrative in court, by stating that he took the money to the Government House in Benue State.At Wednesday’s hearing, according to a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, the PW4, reaffirmed his earliest statement to the EFCC. He disclosed that he received calls from associates of Suwam threatening him to change his statement in Court.“I changed my statement because of the pressure I received from Suswam’s people”, he said.When asked by prosecution counsel, what the ex-governor’s allies wanted him to change, he told the court that they wanted him to change where and who he gave the Dollar equivalent of N3.1 billion.
Umar further revealed that “I don’t know Elixir but sometime in August 2014, Suswam called me to his house in Maitama and introduced me to a lady and asked me to give her my account details.“Suswam said when I see the money, I should give him the Dollar equivalent which I did, amounting to $15.8m while using N197 as exchange rate. I handed over the Dollars in cash to Suswam at his residence in Abuja”Umar told the court that he never mentioned that he handed over the money to Suswam at Kubwa but Maitama.The witness said his company Fanffash Resources has no relationship with the Benue State Government, and that he also has no business or contract with Elixir Investment Partners Limited and does not know where they are.
The matter has been adjourned till May 25, 2021 for continuation of trial.The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had re-arraigned the former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, alongside his then Commissioner of Finance, Omodachi Okolobia on November 2, 2020 before Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja for fraud.Both were docked on amended 11-count charges, bordering on theft, criminal breach of trust, illegal award of contracts and money laundering to the tune of N3.1 billion.